Have you ever imagined yourself owning a restaurant? The idea of creating a niche, an inviting atmosphere, and food that would get a high Zagat review or five stars on Yelp appeals to you. Or maybe you are a killer chef and you’ve been able to put a twist on mom’s best recipes and even some of your own, and you know folks would die for the food. You believe you’re ready to step into the world of restaurant ownership but don’t have much knowledge of what to do first or how. Well, don’t worry. We’ve created a short list of things to consider before deciding whether opening a restaurant is right for you.

Locations Make the Restaurant.

At times, a restaurant is in the right location because it’s the only one for miles and appeals to travelers. Or the right location can mean being the unique pizza and pasta location among various other restaurants. You also can open your restaurant in an up-and-coming area, with new commercial space, which can be great because consumers enjoy exploring new establishments. If you decide to use a former restaurant, you’ll have to conduct a full inspection and bring in commercial roofing experts and electricians to ensure things are up to par. Also, consider a small remodel if it’s within your budget. Just because an old establishment has a certain layout, that doesn’t mean you have to create your space around theirs. New guests familiar with an old restaurant layout will appreciate a nice change in the look and atmosphere. Don’t forget to ask yourself important questions. Is this location easy for guests to find? How is the parking? What other businesses are around me, and do they seem to uphold similar standards to the ones I have for my restaurant? Don’t be afraid to take your time. You don’t want to rush the process of finding the best location for your new endeavor.

Bringing on Staff.

When it comes to creating a winning restaurant, your staff will make all the difference. Search for candidates with the qualities and experience that you’re looking for. For instance, in some cities, food safety certifications are required. Do you want to offer ways for your employees to become certified through you, or are you going to require they already are certified? If so, make sure that the screening process includes asking for required documents. Offer candidates an attractive offer by establishing competitive pay, benefits, and a bonus program or other incentives. Adopt ways to show employee appreciation that work for other companies, such as offering a free meal every shift. You’ll see how the smallest gestures for the people who work hardest for you can result in happiness, respect, and retention, which invite a great atmosphere for guests. Training is also a key to having the right staff. Your front-of-house staff will help service guests, while you’re back-of-house staff will manage the food preparations. Hiring experience managers for each section of the restaurant will ensure each moving part is performing well.    

The Right Investment.

According to the 2017 State of the Industry annual report, the restaurant industry sales totaled more than $700 billion. Though we won’t get the results of 2018 until next year, an uptick in the trend of eating out at restaurants is expected. This is great for investors to see because it means that the restaurant industry is a good place to explore opportunities.  

Most times, it takes seed or start-up funds to get a business off the ground. Some of the cost that is incurred by starting a restaurant can be buying or leasing out location space, renovating the space with kitchen appliances, decor, and inventory, hiring staff, and creating marketing and advertising initiatives. Make sure that when presenting your business plan to investors, you present clear information on how you intend to use the funds and cover questions about potential risk factors.

With or Without Liquor?

Will you have a liquor license? You don’t need a full liquor license to be able to offer your potential guests alcoholic drinks. Consider offering  beers and wines as an option or even consider offering BYOB (Bring your own Beverage). Now, when considering which route you’d like to take, keep in mind that liquor license requirements to sell alcohol vary by state. For instance, in New York, to offer even BYOB service, you must carry a liquor license. The process of getting a liquor license is different state to state, so look into obtaining one early in the process. While waiting for your license, go ahead and establish whether you want to use a liquor store Woodbridge, NJ, or establish a contract with wineries and breweries in the area.

Unique Menu Choice.

What’s on the menu is important. With today’s technology, all we have to do is simply Google whatever we have a taste for, and options appear before our eyes. Appetizing selections and enticing descriptions could be the one thing that might make someone visit your restaurant over someone else’s. Think about what might make your menu stand out. Is it a special brew you’re sampling to your guests, from your favorite coffee subscription? Or maybe it’s a distinctive twist on a classic such as french fries that makes your restaurant the go-to location. Whatever it is that makes your food special, make sure it’s highlighted and well-advertised. Good promotion of your best dishes can ultimately lead to positive word-of-mouth, which can put your restaurant on the map.

The Ugly Truth.

Opening any business comes with risk, but restaurants have greater risk because you have more to consider. Restaurants can be known for their good reputations, as well as the bad reputations that will haunt them until their last day of business. Yes, if you have a bad reputation, your business might close. The key is not to worry about what might go wrong and focus on the things you can control. For instance, intertwining good morals and ethics into your policies will better ensure that your employees are being honest to both you as well as the guests. Or ensure that the food is being prepared with a high level of safety as well as the effort to create a quality product. You don’t want to be the restaurant whose food never tastes or is presented the same. This also goes for keeping your restaurant clean, with an inviting atmosphere. Don’t add risk to your investment by not presenting your restaurant in a manner that would invite you or any of your guests to spend time or money there.

Opening a restaurant is a lot of work. But what you put into it could be what you get out of it. With that, if you feel like you can dedicate the time, effort and energy into opening your restaurant, and you have a good understanding of the risks involved, you should do it.